UM's Jansen, MSU's Rison sound off on Kaepernick

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Andre Rison speaks during the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

They come from different backgrounds, Jon Jansen, who grew up in Clawson, and Andre Rison, who grew up Flint.

But when asked about the ongoing saga surrounding Colin Kaepernick — a quarterback who has a Super Bowl on his resume, yet a quarterback who still can't find a job — their opinions aren't that far off from each other. Both respect Kaepernick's right to express his opinions, even if they disagree with the execution.

"Me personally, right now, I'm gonna stand, I'm gonna pledge allegiance to the flag," said Rison, a former Michigan State and NFL wide receiver who counts his father and uncles among Vietnam veterans.

"I would never disrespect the flag in that way."

Kaepernick, 29, first thrust himself into the national social consciousness late last summer, when he decided to sit during the national anthem, a statement geared toward police brutality and inequality.

More: Michigan Hall inductees look back on their rise to fame

Kaepernick continued to make statements prior to ensuing games, eventually choosing to take a knee during the national anthem, and put his money where his mouth was, too — pledging a million dollars toward social causes.

Many other NFL players have joined the cause in their own way, but Kaepernick has been the poster child for the movement, and remains unsigned as the 2017 regular season already is two weeks underway. 

That would suggest Kaepernick is not one of the top 64 quarterbacks in the country. Which is silly, most would agree. Even sillier, 18 teams have third-string quarterbacks on the active roster, so that would put Kaepernick behind 82.

"Well, he probably is (among the top 82 quarterbacks)," said Jansen, a former Michigan and longtime NFL offensive lineman. "But I will say this, with my time in the league, if he's gonna be a No. 2 quarterback, you don't want to be answering questions about your No. 2 quarterback. You want to be focused on the guy that's starting.


Colin Kaepernick

"You want to be focused on winning the games and doing the stuff. If he's going to have his social platform, that's fine. But if I was a GM, I wouldn't want to be going through that process for a No. 2 quarterback.

"A great example is Tim Tebow. When Tim went to the Jets, it was, 'Hey, when are you gonna play him,' and you're constantly answering questions about your No. 2 guy. You don't have time to do that. There's too many things to do during an NFL season than worry about who is going to be playing because he's a hot-button issue."

In other words, there's the distraction issue.

Both Jansen, 41, and Rison, 50, have some issues with how Kaepernick went about making his point, they both said prior to being inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame last Friday night.

That said, neither one disagrees with the point he has made — and his right to make it — that racial inequality clearly remains in this country, and that includes relationships between police offers and civilians.

Rison was known, during his playing days, as an outspoken athlete, as was his good pal, Deion Sanders. He understands the heat Kaepernick is taking but also understands that when you speak out, you have to be prepared for the backlash. Blackballing, though, is a pretty extreme backlash, one that many of Kaepernick's supporters have used in sounding off on NFL ownership.

"That's about as absurd as me not being on one ballot for the Football Hall of Fame, not one ballot," Orison said, when asked if Kaepernick, who has a career completion percentage near 60 and a CB rating nearly 90, is one of the game's top 82 quarterbacks — in other words, he probably should have a job. "There's no question, without a doubt,

"Colin Kaepernick should be playing professional football.

"Honestly, Colin spoke from his heart. Now, actions may be different. But where it came from, where it was prompted from, I believed he had great intentions."